Belfast Telegraph

Davy Hamilton wants Belmont back on the trophy trail

By David Mason

Belmont's Davy Hamilton believes his team must shrug off last season's disappointment when they travel to Willowfield tomorrow for the start of the new Private Greens League Senior League campaign (2pm).

Not for the first time, the East Belfast boys flattered to deceive. Belmont were right in the frame for a triple trophy success, only for the bottom to fall out of their challenge just when it mattered.

Their lead at the top of the PGL table was whittled away and eventually over taken by Dunbarton, while they crashed out of the IBA and PGL Senior Cups - all in the space of a fortnight.

"I don't want to make excuses, but the unavailability of players cost us big time," said Hamilton. "Due to our run in the cup, we had to play quite a few of our league games, that were scheduled for Saturday, in midweek and that didn't suit a lot of people.

"It meant that we were grossly under strength for a really crucial part of the campaign."

Belmont have boosted their squad with the signing of Simon Martin from Bangor. But to balance that, Aaron Sloan has moved to Willowfield and Jason Kerr has rejoined Larne.

"Simon will be a big asset," added Hamilton. "He is one of the top players in Ireland and we are delighted to have him on board. Both Aaron and Jason have been involved for the past four or five years, but they have moved on due to their personal circumstances.

"We have a tough start at Willowfield. It's never easy up at their place. We only scraped home last season, so it will be another battle, but we can't wait to get going again."

Fixtures, NI Private Greens League Division One: Ewarts v Larne, Ballymena v Ulster Transport, Ards v Pickie, Willowfield v Belmont.

NIBA Division One: Divis v Dundonald, Bangor v Lurgan, Lisnagarvey v Balmoral, Carrick v Whitehead, Portadown v Banbridge.

NIPBA Senior Division: City of Derry v Portglenone, Ballymoney v Ballycastle, Portrush v Limavady, Dunluce v Cookstown, Coleraine v Letterkenny.

The sport of bowls is in mourning today after the passing of Bryan Magrath.

Following a courageous five year battle with illness, Bryan, who was such a popular figure not only at his home club Old Bleach but at every Private Greens League club in the country, sadly lost his fight on Thursday.

"Bryan was our president, our team mate and our friend and he will be sadly missed," said Old Bleach's Michael Nutt.

As a mark of respect, all Old Bleach games scheduled for today have been postponed.

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